The Race! – August 3rd, 2018

The Race!

The Apostle Paul talked about ‘the race’. That passage of scripture is perhaps one of the most miss used of Pauls messages. The prize is more than crossing the ribbon. It is so much more!

Note from Kip…

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

Jesus is calling. He calls to every person living today. It doesn’t really matter if you believe in Him, you trust Him, or you love Him. He calls to you.

He does this because of His love for you.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.

1 John 4:16-19 (NLT)

You see, there are two types of people in this world. There are only two types. Those that have experienced the perfect love of Jesus Christ, and those who have not.

For every single person, Christ has extended His gift of complete forgiveness regardless of what we have done. Until we receive that gift we walk around with a death sentence on us. A sentence which is not rightfully yours.

That’s right, that death sentence has been carried out, so you should not have to suffer because of it. However, until we are willing to surrender our lives to Jesus and be His, that payment is not recognized.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 3:23-24 (HCSB)

Here in the south, we’d say ‘all y’all’ have sinned. We all have. We all will. There is no distinction between one who as accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and one who has not, in regard to the existence of sin. All have sinned and will continue to have sin enter their life as long as we exist here in this world. So the difference isn’t the sin.  The difference is the disposition of that sin.

For the follower of Christ Jesus that sin has been wiped out. It is off the record forever. But for the one who doesn’t surrender to Jesus, that pardon for the sin has not been applied and they are every bit as guilty as they were before He hung on the cross to absolve that sin.

So the difference isn’t sin, it is redemption.

The Race of the Redeemed

Back to that race we were talking about earlier.

Paul spoke of the race we are in and striving for the prize. A lot of people take that prize to be heaven. I contend it is not.

For the one who places their hope and trust in Jesus for their salvation, heaven is a given. It’s not a prize. It is a forgone conclusion. It is the promised hope of our salvation. It is going to happen as sure as Jesus hung on the tree, if we have surrendered our lives to Him we will be with Him in Glory.

So what is this race about and what of the ‘prize’.

I did a word study of that passage. I’m not going to bore you with the meaning of every word or how they fit in context. I think perhaps I focus too much on that at times. But in doing the word study there is not one part of that passage that isn’t talking about the immediate or impending time frame.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

‘Forgetting the past’, he’s pointing out his presence of mind. ‘Looking forward to what lies ahead’. A runner is not looking around the course to see the finish line. No, look a the faces in the picture of those who are leading that race! Their focus is honed to the next two or three steps they are anticipating. Drawing from within themselves ever bit of strength they can pull to the surface to drive on to the next push forward.

Paul says he does that he does this to reach the end of the race and receive the prize. Remember I said that prize was not heaven, so if it isn’t heaven what is that prize. Check out the last phrases. “Prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

What does Christ call us to?  Now I know, different folks are called to different areas of service to the King of Kings. I’ve not been called to a lot of things. It doesn’t mean He wouldn’t call me to those things, He simply hasn’t, yet. He may never, and frankly some of ‘those things’ I would just as soon He didn’t call me to. But if He did, I would go.

Some things come to mind that He calls all of us to; Love is one, forgiveness is another, kindness is still another.

As difficult as loving the unlovable and forgiving the unforgivable, Paul wasn’t ‘striving‘ to get there.

What Paul and each and every individual that gives their heart to Jesus is call to by Jesus, is to be a Disciple of His. Not just meander along the path to salvation kicking a few rocks here and there, but to strive with every ounce of our energy and will to emulate Jesus in every way possible. That’s the prize brothers and sisters.

I believe it to be the prize because it is the paramount calling for every Christian to be the representation of Christ. And for those who put it all in the race and reach heavens gate they will hear their Lord and Master say ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’!

That is the prize before us.

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

Matthew 25:23 (NLT)

Every-time we cast off the old self and take up the robes of righteousness the Jesus has placed before and run with it, striving to be as close to our teacher as possible, we receive a little bit of that prize.

Jesus wants to award us time and time again as we successfully reach that goal of being His hand, His feet, His voice and the manifestation of His love and  grace. In short His Disciple.

That is the prize before us.  To be like Him. Love like Him. Forgive Like Him. Be the Light of the World just as he is.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing; being His Disciple. Following Him as closely as I am capable of.

Blessings,
kip…

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